Achieving a Life of Delight
The joy of life goes far beyond a rewarding career and financial freedom. It’s in the little moments that fill our lives with joy – like appreciating the pretty hues of sunrise and spending precious time with loved ones.
Unfortunately, delight can feel like a double-edged sword. If you try to impose it on users, they may find it uncomfortable or even irritating.
1. Be grateful.
Gratitude is one of the most important skills you can cultivate. It’s the emotion that enables us to recognize life’s delights, whether it’s the beautiful hue of a sunrise or spending quality time with loved ones.
The practice of gratitude can also provide you with a sense of inner strength. When you are able to consciously appreciate the people and things in your life, you can better weather the storms of adversity.
In addition, being thankful can boost impulse control and help you feel a greater sense of humility, which are both important ingredients for self-improvement. For example, in a study conducted by the PAW lab at UC Riverside, high school students who wrote weekly gratitude letters reported healthier eating behaviors than those who simply listed their daily activities.
2. Practice gratitude.
Gratitude is the sweet taste of delight that dispels worry, fear and frustration. It’s the feeling that emerges when you witness a friend or family member overcome a challenge, when your child gets an A on a test or when your coffee is just how you like it.
Several different methods for cultivating gratitude have been shown to work: writing in a journal or a “gratitude jar,” expressing thanks by text message, using visual reminders (like the screensaver on your phone or the password on your computer) and telling others about what you appreciate about them. Keeping it fresh by varying these strategies is important to prevent a decline in effectiveness.
Delights are all around us, if we take the time to notice them. They might be the way the sun shines through a tree, a hug from a friend or the first delicious sip of your morning coffee.
3. Cultivate a sense of wonder.
Wonder is the engine that drives a passion for learning, a dissatisfaction with ignorance, and a yearning to get closer to truth. It’s what fuels students at Veritas.
In a classroom, wonder might be evident when students ask questions that challenge conventional wisdom (such as “How is it possible that monarch butterflies can travel 100 miles a day?”). Or, when a student raises an anomaly that forces the class to reconsider their understanding of a topic.
Outside of school, the easiest way to reawaken wonder is to experience something novel. Visit a new restaurant, take a hike in a park you’ve never been to before, or try reading a book written by an author who has a different style than your usual one. The sense of wonder will grow with your desire to learn more.
4. Practice presence.
A great design must support delight viscerally, behaviorally, and reflectively. But it can be challenging to know when a product meets this criterion. Like a stool, delight depends on all three legs; if one leg is weak, the entire experience will feel off.
Practice the simple habit of pausing and being present during your daily activities. This practice will help you train your mind to be more mindful, even in situations that are normally stressful or unpleasant.
For example, when you’re washing dishes in the kitchen, pause and pay attention to your sensations. Observe the colors and textures of your plate, how the water feels against your skin, and any emotions you might be feeling. Notice them without judgment, and practice letting them pass.
5. Practice gratitude.
A grateful mindset can help you see the good in even difficult situations, so it’s a great way to boost your emotional resiliency. Plus, recent research indicates that practicing gratitude can help you sleep better and reduce physical symptoms such as headaches and aches and pains.
Try writing a list of things you’re thankful for each night before bed, or keeping a journal of blessings. Focus on small, easily measurable items that feel good to you—like a beautiful day, a friendly smile, or a delicious dinner.
If you’re feeling more social, consider reaching out to friends and family and telling them how much you appreciate them. You could also express your appreciation in a more direct way by doing a favor for someone or volunteering.